Before we dive into the rest of it today, let’s take a moment to remember Stephen Hawking: modern cosmology's brightest star (2.2 million+ shares), as The Guardian’s Ian Sample called the physicist and author of “A Brief History of Time,” who died yesterday — on Albert Einstein’s birthday — at age 76. “We have lost a colossal mind and a wonderful spirit. Rest in peace, Stephen Hawking,” Tim Berners-Lee tweeted. Simply “Brilliance personified,” as Katy Muldoon says. Dennis Overbye has the New York Times obit, Stephen Hawking, Who Examined the Universe and Explained Black Holes, Dies at 76 (267,000+ shares), which quotes Martin Rees, a Cambridge University cosmologist, the astronomer royal of Britain and Dr. Hawking’s longtime colleague: “What a triumph his life has been.”
Also at The New York Times, Yonette Joseph has put together a compilation of his quotes, Stephen Hawking, in His Own Words (29,000+ shares). On knowledge, he once said, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
Tremors in Trumpland
The latest tally, according to CNN’s Eric Bradner, is that Democrat Conor Lamb is poised to upset GOP in Pennsylvania special election. In their analysis, Peter Baker and Michael Shear of The New York Times write that the Strong Performance by Democrat Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania Shakes Trump and G.O.P. Adam Goldman calls it “Tremors in Trumpland.”
A catchphrase is born
“Underrated: the cool, quiet beauty of a matter-of-factly unforgiving full transcript.” Clemence Michallon, extolling the virtues of an interview transcript, directs you to The New York Times’ full transcript of the Q&A with the President on the South Lawn of the White House yesterday, Trump Answers Questions on Rex Tillerson and Mike Pompeo. “What a day!” says Kate Nocera, who highlights this exchange: “REPORTER: Did you fire him because he called you a moron? TRUMP: What? REPORTER: Did you fire him because he called you a moron? TRUMP: Say it again.”
In ‘Rex, Eat the Salad,’ Michael Bender of The Wall Street Journal takes you inside the awkward relationship between Rex Tillerson and Donald Trump, leading it off with a story about wilting Caesar salads. “A catch phrase is born. #rexeatthesalad,” tweets Robert Simonson.
And you know The Onion weighed in. Their take: Rex Tillerson Blindsided By News He Still Worked For State Department.
Musk poaches Onion
Hey, speaking of The Onion, did you know that Elon Musk Wanted to Buy ‘The Onion,’ Now He’s Poaching Its Staffers for a Secret Project? Maxwell Tani has the scoop at The Daily Beast, and Alexandra Scaggs is “a bit concerned that this will become a bizarro-alphaville but because they're Onion writers we won't be able to effectively drag them.” As James Grebey puts it, “goddamnit Elon Musk.”
In more sobering news, “meanwhile Putin's critics and their allies continue to die,” observes J. D. Durkin. Robert Mendick, Hayley Dixon, Roland Oliphant and Tom Ball of The Telegraph report, Putin enemy found dead in London eight days after Skripal poisoning, as counter-terror police launch investigation. Luke Harding and Owen Bowcott cover the story for The Guardian, Russian exile Nikolai Glushkov found dead at his London home (52,000+ shares). “Wow. I mean wow. These Russian exiles are literally dropping like nine-pins,” says Guy Chazan. Adds Michael Weiss, “Another one. A Berezovsky friend, too.” In case it wasn’t obvious by now, “WE ARE IN AN EPISODE OF THE AMERICANS,” Amanda Terkel tweetshouts at us. BBC News is now reporting that the UK will expel 23 Russian diplomats.
Gun violence protests
Today is the National School Walkout, which Alan Blinder and Julie Turkewitz are covering for The New York Times. They write, “Thousands of students, emboldened by a growing protest movement over gun violence, stood up in their classrooms on Wednesday and walked out of their schools in a nationwide demonstration, one month after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Florida.” Stephen Totilo offers “Much respect to all the students doing a walkout today. You give me--and I'm sure many other people--so much hope.”
Meanwhile, Fred Barbash of The Washington Post reports, a Gun-trained teacher accidentally discharges firearm in Calif. classroom, injuring student (99,000+ shares). Or as Clarence Page puts it, “Shoot happens.” Eric Rosenberg’s take: “Unless it is on the hip of a police officer, guns don't belong in schools. Period.”
Wherein Bubba the Love Sponge is peak investigative journalism
“Dear presidential historian in the year 2076, I am so sorry.” Here’s what Ryan Teague Beckwith is apologizing about: Stormy Daniels discussed alleged affair with Trump on 2007 radio show, host Bubba the Love Sponge Clem says. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski has the story, tweeting, “NEW: We got audio of Stormy Daniels talking about an affair with a wealthy celebrity that began in Nevada on a 2007 radio show. Details match up with her Trump lawsuit and multiple people at the interview say it was Trump.” It all leads J. E. Reich to wonder, “Does this mean we live in a world now wherein Bubba the Love Sponge is peak investigative journalism.” But Matt Negrin sees an opportunity here: “Tip for WH reporters, here’s a not-bad way to get Trump to talk about Stormy Daniels: Tell him she told a radio host she ‘might’ sleep with him if she sees him again.” Anyway, as Tom Gara says, “I've always thought what the Stormy Daniels news cycle needed was more Bubba The Love Sponge, and luckily, God rewards His true believers.”
You are fricking KIDDING me
Julie Miller of Vanity Fair reveals that Netflix’s The Crown Paid Queen Elizabeth Less Than Prince Philip (14,000+ shares), and Hannah Furness nails it with her response: “You are fricking KIDDING me.” Tweets Vanity Fair, “If the (TV version of the) queen of the freaking commonwealth can’t get fair pay, what hope do the rest of us have?” You know, it’s just “tfw you earn less than your male co-star despite being the lead character of a show named for the thing your character wears,” as David Mack puts it. Another appropriate reaction, courtesy of Alicia Lutes: “BURN IT ALL TO THE GROUND THE QUEEN CANNOT EVEN MAKE MORE THAN THE FUCKING PRINCE ON HER OWN DAMN SHOW?!” Meanwhile, Sarah Mimms “*Screams internally.* *Finds that insufficient.* *Bursts into flame.*”
There’s just one catch
So let’s wrap it up here: “This startup wants to preserve your brain and upload it to a computer. But first, you have to be euthanized. Crazy story by @antonioregalado.” Emily Mullin is referring to the piece by Antonio Regalado at Technology Review, A startup is pitching a mind-uploading service that is “100 percent fatal.” Megan McCarthy poses the question you knew you’d one day have to ponder: “Would you give your brain to a Y Combinator company?” As Mat Honan highlights, “‘The product is 100 percent fatal,’ says McIntyre. ‘That is why we are uniquely situated among the Y Combinator companies.’ WHAT THE FUCK, DOG.” Adds Mike Isaac, “i know this has been going around all morning but ‘we will straight up kill you’ is extremely my dystopian startup pitch shit.” And here’s what Dan Stapleton noticed: “The fact we lost Stephen Hawking, one of the greatest minds of our time, the day after this brain-uploading story was going around is just a *little bit* suspicious?”
New scoop from Michael Del Moro of ABC News, the family of slain DNC staffer Seth Rich just filed a lawsuit against Fox News, reporter Malia Zimmerman, and Ed Butowsky.
“If you thought this was over, it's not…” Betsy Klein refers you to the latest from CNN’s Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace, Emails show Ben, Candy Carson selected $31,000 dining set. And then there’s this scoop from Brady Dennis and Juliet Eilperin of The Washington Post, Scott Pruitt’s $25,000 soundproof phone booth? It actually cost more like $43,000.
“Sure, what the president says is newsworthy -- but 75 minutes of live coverage while he bloviates, insults and makes false statements? No way.” Margaret Sullivan links to her latest column for The Washington Post, Live coverage of a Pennsylvania rally was another free ad for Trump’s favorite candidate: Himself.
Facebook is Taking Action Against Britain First. “This is a very good step. Britain First is one of the most pervasive spreaders of hate on Facebook,” notes Jasper Jackson.
Kashmir Hill of Gizmodo explains How Conservative Activists Catfished Twitter.
Manafort could face ‘rest of life in prison,’ judge says. Josh Gerstein has the details at POLITICO.
A Chicago Tribune exclusive by David Heinzmann and Todd Lighty finds Pritzker's secret offshore holdings revealed in Chicago duck boat land deal.